September 2021: 6 things changing in the Netherlands
A new month has arrived, and is bringing with it a number of changes. From a stop-and-search trial in the Dutch capital to imminent changes to the government’s coronavirus policy, here are six changes expats in the Netherlands should be aware of as we enter September.
1. New 13-week ultrasound for pregnant women
As of September 1, pregnant women in the Netherlands will be able to book an additional ultrasound appointment at the 13-week mark. The 13-week ultrasound is designed to detect physical abnormalities in the unborn child while still in the early stages of pregnancy.
The new 13-week ultrasound serves as an extra check on top of the existing 20-week ultrasound.
2. Gay and bisexual men able to donate blood
Up until now, gay and bisexual men have only been able to donate blood after four months without sexual activity. But, as was announced earlier this year, as of September 1, men in monogamous relationships for at least 12 months are now able to donate blood in the Netherlands.
The Dutch gay rights organisation, COC, has called the rule-change “a breakthrough” but continues to have issues with the definition of monogamous. Later this month, the organisation will discuss the stipulation, which does not exist for heterosexual men, with the Minister for Medical Care, Tamara van Ark. Van Ark has also said that options for donating blood as a gay or bisexual men not in a relationship are also being looked into, and that the rules for them could change by the end of next year.
3. Dutch government ends coronavirus financial aid
As was announced earlier this year, this month will be the final month where businesses and self-employed people will be able to receive financial support from the Dutch government. As of October 1, the NOW, Tozo, TVL and TONK schemes will be brought to an end.
The government says it feels the support is no longer needed as most restrictions have been lifted and unemployment remains low. Heading into the final months of the year, government aid will only be available to certain sectors that are likely to continue to be affected by coronavirus restrictions (i.e. nightclubs and events and festivals).
4. Further changes to national coronavirus restrictions
The next coronavirus press conference is scheduled to take place on September 17 (but could potentially be brought forward to September 14), and Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge are expected to announce a handful of changes to the national coronavirus policy.
Rutte already announced at the last press conference that, as of September 20, new rules will apply for events, cinemas, theatres, restaurants, and bars hoping to admit more than 75 people: they must request either proof of vaccination, proof of recovery from COVID-19, or a recent negative test. While this rule change is still on the horizon, it’s possible that the number could be reduced from 75 to 50.
Other changes that are rumoured to be on the way include lifting the face-mask rule for public transport as well as the urgent advice to work from home much as possible. By the end of the month, it’s also likely that members of the public will be required to pay for access tests (up until now the costs of these tests have been covered by the government).
The government is hesitant to move too quickly when it comes to lifting further restrictions, as the decline in coronavirus cases appears to have stagnated. The RIVM expects another increase in the autumn, and has warned about potential pressure on hospitals and the Dutch healthcare system.
5. Amsterdam introduces stop-and-search trial
After much discussion, this month sees Amsterdam introduce its very own stop-and-search trial, designed to reduce gun violence in the city. As of September 1, in certain parts of the capital, police officers will be able to carry out preventative body searches. The trial will last only one month.
In order to reduce the risk of discrimination and racial profiling, the trial has been set up so that officers search every umpteenth pedestrian. Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema has also recruited 45 civilian observers who will supervise the frisking. Police unions and Amnesty International remain critical of the trial, doubting whether the system will be effective in stopping crime.
6. Prinsjesdag: Cabinet announces 2022 budget
On the third Tuesday of September, the current government will announce the national budget for 2022. Rutte may still be fighting to form his next government, but the current interim ministers will be responsible for dictating the budget for the coming year.
So far, we know the cabinet is allocating an additional six to seven billion euros to reduce CO2 emissions next year, and almost half a billion euros for reducing crime on a national level.